Europe: I, II, III

I: Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Vienna
II: Milan, Venice, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Pompeii
III: Paris

Maybe I am doing a tad too much travelling — but nevertheless, here’s at least a picture of every city I went to for memory keepsake: there are many details I have already forgotten, and I don’t want to lose even more memories.

In order:

Brussels

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This square was known as the Cinquantenaire; I actually had to look back at TripAdvisor to remember the name of this place. I remember tons of tourists here, along with the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and AutoWorld, where we leeched FreeWifi by cracking into the locked WiFi with the password “Autoworld”.

Frankfurt

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This definitely wasn’t a sight exclusive to Frankfurt- but I think we spent quite a bit of time hanging around watching these public performances. Violinists (cellists?), pianists, never seemed to get tired of seeing them around. I silently appreciate the generosity of people around (not me) who paid for these street performances by purchasing their covers, the audience (and money) are why these performances exist. šŸ™‚

Munich

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The Dachau Concentration Camp was definitely the highlight — we had to take a train there, followed by the bus, but the inconvenience was quite worth it. We bumped into Singaporeans, and being there felt like a walk in a history textbook. “Learning outside the classroom”, they say. Frankly though, it was a really pleasant day and the sky was evidently really beautiful, which may have downplayed the atrocities conducted in that very place. It is honestly hard to think of something horribly when you see streaks of sunlight peeking in. It was a true eye-opener though, and I’d love to go to other concentration camps too, especially the Auschwitz camp in Poland where Dachau prisoners were “deported” to for mass killing. Mass killings did not take place in the gas chambers in Dachau, despite that it was quite nerve-wrecking to actually walk into one… small room, congested… It’s so chilling how they were told lies about “taking a shower” to make them walk into their deaths.

Berlin

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This was where I spent Christmas, honestly, very unfortunately. The highlight of this place has got to be the Berlin Wall: it was interesting to stand at where H2 Geography notes spoke about the East’s cheap labour being unable to enter the West after the enactment of the wall. However, the wall was terribly vandalised (even the signs directing you around the exhibits!) which honestly shows a lot about the city’s culture. The spread of vandalism literally greeted you upon entering the city, and every wall in the train stations, the trains, were vandalised. Not beautiful artwork, but vandalism. Of mobile phone numbers. Of rage in German that I probably couldn’t comprehend. Of course, how dangerously I (we) had to live. We were avoiding drunkards, street beggars and muggers at every cost. It did not help that PLUS Berlin, where we stayed, was located in an extremely shady area (even though the place was beautiful).

I think this city, while rich in history, is one I will never want to return to again.

Prague

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The best thing about Prague was that it was 18 degrees upon arrival, I remembered being able to shed my outermost coat! It was beautiful walking into the city centre, and I was so extremely glad to arrive here from (dangerous) Berlin. The Charles bridge, with the calming effects from watching the waters, the bustling city centre with Christmas markets, killed all my negative feelings from earlier. I actually love crowded areas, I feel that it is an indication that the economy is doing spectacularly. I managed to visit the Salvador Dali Museum too, which was concurrently held with the Andy Warhol exhibition. We caught a ballet concert on Romeo and Juliet the next day too, and we had excellent seats for the price we paid. Well-spent, well-fed and happy. Prague was amazing.

Vienna

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We were really bored, and I was pretty burnt out from travel fatigue. Honestly, doing touristy things for 10 days straight really took a toll on me and I was craving for some adventure by the time of it, and not the routine cathedral museum gardens that started to look the same to me after a while. So we decided to hit the “Adventure” option on TripAdvisor or something and ended up here, an activity that was similar to the “Escape The Room” in Singapore. I never played it in Singapore, but this was an extremely enjoyable experience. I was honestly freaked out by the realism of the crime scene and how they used music, annoying noises, beautiful graphics and even real crime scene details to re-enact the entire scene. It was pretty pricey at ā‚¬75 in total for both of us — but I enjoyed it completely despite the fact that we didn’t manage to crack the code (we were ONE lock away, even the organisers looking through the CCTV told us we made it really really far for a team of two!)

I’d definitely go to more Escape The Room themed games in the future šŸ™‚

Milan

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The Duomo Cathedral was always cited as a must-go in Milan, especially with its strategic location right beside the shopping haven. Regardless, the travel fatigue probably got to me too much, I wasn’t really too interested in the intricacies of the architectural work nor the “breathtaking bird-eye’s view over Milan” by then. So here’s me excitedly sighting a spot where the Duomo Cathedral and a random street store shared the limelight.

Venice

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Venice was such a dreamy, beautiful place. Frankly I hadn’t expected much from Italy so it was easy to exceed expectations over here. Gelato was inexpensive, waking up to the quaint little colourful buildings made my mornings so easily, and manoeuvreing through the little alleyways and small streets made me happier than anything else. I thought about my childhood and how I went to The Venetian in Macau twice, and I was so happy that I actually was able to stand here 5 years later. :’) Oh, and given that the casino was 19+, I entered the casino too… without bringing my wallet. I looked like a little kid walking around in the casino man, they were just short of chasing me out.

And this was where I got the Triangel dolls (thanks for the gift!): Triumph in the Skies is such a lie. Rome was not the only filming site, they went to Venice and Florence to film certain scenes too. My life is a lie…

Pisa

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There’s nothing else in Pisa other than this and cheap gelato: and here’s a different pose from my leg kick since I was in gloomy Pisa that day. We spent about an hour catching good photos and good poses, which was basically the only thing we could do there anyway.

Rome

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“Backpack to Europe: Rome” sounds really silly- when I was younger I never could grasp the concept of “Europe” in its entirety and I never knew what Europe was referring to. I just knew Rome and Europe were sort of related, and I wanted to go to Rome. Finally a dream I’d always been harbouring since young (since Triumph in the Skies!!!) came true, and I could even follow their tracks to the filming sites, where Belle dropped her bracelet, where he asked where he could seek for his mother, and where he chased Belle (Flora Chan) down the entire street :’) In my childhood I dreamt, during my teenage years I relived them, and as a young adult I was finally able to realise them.

I was really excited about going to Italy for this and this alone, and am still really glad šŸ™‚

Naples

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In the city of pizza and I did not eat pizza. 10/10 for how amazing I am. Anyway, Naples was one relatively underdeveloped city in Italy, and I could see from the infrastructure, peeling paint and just the general vibe of the city. Loved the contrast in urban environments here, right before entering this narrow street there was a modern glassy building (parliamentary building?), and you see this next: a residential area with shophouses, a neighbourhood with everything and everyone you’ll ever need and meet. Urbanisation, an uneven one at that, is extremely real here.

Pompeii

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Still amused from the knowledge I remembered from the H2 Lithosphere notes. “The AD79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius dumped 3m of ash on Pompeii, causing over 3000 deaths” was something I memorised so religiously. Never thought I’ll be here in Pompeii one day, in the land where my sister’s comprehension passages spawned from, in the land where my Geography examples stem from. Really glad we took the day trip to Pompeii to check out this old city.

Paris in the next post because I am getting too sleepy, but am finally recalling some details of my trip back during the winter break 2 months back!!! An extremely fulfilling one at that. šŸ™‚

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